Let me get this out of the way: I’m a proud delegitimizer of the Occupation. And I expect, nay demand to be included among those investigated by the new IDF military intelligence unit created to monitor the evil deeds of Diaspora delegitimizers (like you and I).
Aman, IDF’s military intelligence unit, has come up with the single worst, most offensive idea to come out of Israel in–well, in at least a week or so. No actually and seriously this is one really big disaster of an idea. It’s so horrible, it’s hard to wrap my mind around just how bad it is:
Military Intelligence [Aman] is collecting information about left-wing organizations abroad that the army sees as aiming to delegitimize Israel, according to senior Israeli officials and Israel Defense Forces officers.
The sources said MI’s research division created a department several months ago that is dedicated to monitoring left-wing groups and will work closely with government ministries…
The undefined and potentially broad scope of such a venture, which IDF sources say is focusing on how to respond to maritime convoys aimed at breaching Israel’s Gaza blockade, has some Foreign Ministry officials concerned that the army is overreaching.
Now keep in mind, this is Avigdor Lieberman and Danny Ayalon’s MFA that is raising red flags about this noxious project. The most right-wing of the governing coalition even worries that the spooks may’ve gone overboard. That tells you something.
“We ourselves don’t know exactly how to define delegitimization,” said one ministry official. “This is a very abstract definition. Are flotillas to Gaza delegitimization? Is criticism of settlements delegitimization? It’s not clear how Military Intelligence’s involvement in this will provide added value.”
Wow, a voice of reason. Who’d a thunk it coming from the MFA.
Military Intelligence officials said the initiative reflects an upsurge in worldwide efforts to delegitimize Israel and question its right to exist.
Shall we challenge them to name a single group that denies Israel’s right to exist. Who does? BDS? Wrong. BDS is an attack on the Occupation, not Israel’s existence.
“The enemy changes, as does the nature of the struggle, and we have to boost activity in this sphere,” an MI official said. “Work on this topic proceeds on the basis of a clear distinction between legitimate criticism of the State of Israel on the one hand, and efforts to harm it and undermine its right to exist on the other.”
This is pure b(^^#)&t. No one in Aman, just as no one inside the Israel lobby makes any distinction whatsoever between criticism of Israel and undermining its right to exist. You and I know that in the narrow minded brains of these ideologues there is no difference. Unless, they’re saying that legitimate criticism of Israel comes from the likes of the Labor party or Kadima, but no one else. Under those narrow, twisted terms, I guess they’d be right.
The following passage contains possibly the most alarming, damaging admission. The new spook unit will not just monitor activity in Israel or from Israel, it will actively monitor groups in the U.S. and Europe. One presume that this means they might even do so on European or U.S. soil. I would hope a few of our more courageous Congress members might have a question or two about such activity. I’m wondering how many U.S. laws such spying would violate here. I hope at least a few.
If I didn’t know better, I’d also call for a Knesset investigation of this idiocy. But the Knesset IS the very type of people who think this is a neat idea. Why would anyone expect any sanity coming from its halls?
Personally, I find it deeply offensive that the State of Israel is going to keep tabs on groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and blogs like mine, Phil Weiss’ and others. I say “keep tabs.” You and I both know that Israeli intelligence doesn’t just keep tabs. It engages in active campaigns to smear the work of such people. In fact, I’ve even written here about my suspicion that some efforts to plant stories here may be more than the effort of wannabe pro-Israel spooks:
The new MI unit will monitor Western groups involved in boycotting Israel, divesting from it or imposing sanctions on it. The unit will also collect information about groups that attempt to bring war crime or other charges against high-ranking Israeli officials, and examine possible links between such organizations and terror groups.
…The unit’s other spheres of responsibility have yet to be clearly defined, but are expected to involve pinpointing the subjects that Israel’s other intelligence agencies should investigate, sources said.
Did you hear that JVP, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and who knows how many thousands of others? You’re a target.
The quality of intelligence information about groups aimed at delegitimizing Israel has improved and the quantity has increased in recent months, said an official in the Prime Minister’s Office.
“There is a demand for such information,” he said. “Officials need information on such topics, and it hasn’t always been available in the past, because there was a lack of awareness pertaining to this topic in the intelligence community. The new unit’s orientation will be to collect information and carry out intelligence research for the Foreign Ministry and other government ministries.
The unit has the support of Brig. Gen. (res. ) Yossi Kuperwasser, the director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and a previous head of MI’s research division. During the second intifada, he pushed for the intelligence community’s large-scale involvement in public advocacy and diplomatic matters, a stance that was criticized by other MI officers.
Yet another mid-level spook seeking to advance his career with a cracker-jack program serving absolutely no useful purpose, and which will only further tarnish Israel’s reputation as a state which has lost any semblance of democracy. A state in which the lunatics have taken over the asylum. A state in which spies and security-obsessed freaks make the rules while the nation marches along in virtual lock-step.
What kind of Israel is this? For me, it’s an Israel for which I feel ashamed. Who is delegitimizing Israel? Israel is. Occupation delegitimizes. Killing Gazan teenagers playing soccer with a tank shell delegitimizes. The harm is not from the BDS community. It is from nitwits like Brig. Gen. Kuperwasser who think they’ve come up with a new way to spook the bad guys.
I say with pride that I will gladly sign up as one of the first on the list to be investigated. Not that I will willingly talk to or be interrogated by one of these goons. But to know I am actively being investigated as a delegitimizer of Israel’s Occupation is something devoutly to be wished.
In fact, I suggest that my readers and as many progressive bloggers and NGOs as we can sign up, should send e mails to Brig. Gen. Kuperwasser (doesn’t the guy’s name sound like something out of a Woody Allen New Yorker story?) demanding that we be included among the delegitimizers. Let me be the first to step forward. Can someone get me an e mail address for this tin pot spook?
In case you didn’t guess this already, Kuperwasser is a darling of the Israel lobby, listed as a published author or speaker for groups such as The Israel Project and and Dore Gold’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He’s appeared before the neocon Intelligence Summit. And he’s also a favored source of the Washington Times’ Eli Lake and Politico’s Ben Smith–surprise, surprise. His formal job and title is director of the Office for Strategic Affairs under hard-right Likud Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon.
For those who would like to see an example of how such snooping would work in action, read Gideon Levy’s tale of an Israeli “spy” taking copious notes during a talk in Dublin, passing them on to his superiors in foreign ministry central, who redact it to excise anything favorable to Israel and highlight anything critical, and there you have it, a perfect picture of the intelligence state run amok:
About two weeks ago, I was invited to the Jewish Book Week in London, following the publication in English of my book “The Punishment of Gaza.” The Jewish establishment in Britain threatened to boycott the event, the organizers considered hiring security guards, and roughly 500 people, mainly middle-of-the-road Jews, filled the hall, asked questions and mainly, in their modest way, expressed great sympathy. I spoke, as I always do, against the occupation, the injustices and the damage it does to Israel and to the Palestinians, against the attacks on Israeli democracy as I have written in the hundreds of articles that have been published in Haaretz in Hebrew and in English, and as I did at the London School of Economics and Trinity University [ed. College] in Dublin.
As on previous occasions, a “spy” from the Israeli Embassy was sent to Trinity – this one, an Israeli student who was asked to write down what I said and convey it to the embassy. The embassy quickly dispatched a report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and the Foreign Ministry quickly leaked it to a well-known newspaper, which published only my harshest statements, without context – and there you have it: the indictment of a dissident.
One can ignore the way the embassy spies on journalists, evoking dark regimes. I would be glad to see a government representative at my lectures who was not under cover, if they have any interest. But one cannot ignore the message conveyed by such conduct – that of a witch hunt against a journalist whose opinions diverge from the party line.
If I were the rector of that university it would give me pause to know a student might’ve been placed at my school for just such a purpose to spy on visiting Israeli left-wing speakers and perhaps even faculty members who refuse to toe the Israeli government party line. I’m guessing the “paper” to which his story was leaked was the Jewish Chronicle, which would seem only too willing to smear someone like Levy. This too raises questions about the extent to which the Israeli intelligence apparatus uses sources, whether wittingly or unwittingly, to advance its own partisan, ideological agenda. It raises questions about whether universities and newspapers should carefully consider such activity and whether it violates ethical norms and the interests of their institutions. In this case, you have a student exploiting his position on campus to advance the interests of Israeli intelligence and you have a newspaper which accepts a deliberately manipulated account of Levy’s speech.